By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– With how this game ended up being during the second half, it’s going to be a fun season ahead for both Southridge in the Metro League and North Salem boys soccer in the Mid-Willamette Conference.
First game out of the gate for both teams had the fireworks, intensity and opportunities to possibly tear the door down in the Skyhawks last second victory over the Vikings 2-1 Monday night at Littlefoot Field.
“It was good. It was one of the hardest games we’ve played so far and we did good,” said Adan Garcia.
Coming off of the Salem-Keizer jamboree on Saturday, North Salem continued their aggressive play into their season opener. Still missing a few players and relying on their youth the Viks came out swinging.
Juan Rangle Salas had two opportunities to break the then 0-0 game, but it was Southridge that struck first in the 13th minute off a Ben Kusher header. It was one of three opportunities the ‘Hawks had in the opening half on North Salem goalkeeper Josiah Solorzano.
Solorzano, a sophomore, had nine saves in the game as he and his defense kept their offense in the game going into the second half of the game down 1-0.
“Fantastic, he’s another young player, another developing player that’s going to be playing club and getting that experience there,” North Salem Head Coach Salvador Maciel said of his goalkeeper. “He did show up a lot with some big, crucial saves. I think he had nine big saves and our backline’s pretty young and we’re still competing.”
Outside the few breakaways that included the Kusher goal in the first half and into the second half, the Vikings controlled the pace of the game. Midfielders, Forwards and the Defensive back made it hard for Southridge to do much, North Salem couldn’t finish the opportunities.
Garcia’s 45th minute goal had tied the game at one and the Vikings were literally inches from taking their first lead of the game moments later if it wasn’t for an awkward bounce off the goalpost.
North Salem kept battling. Even with the Skyhawks gathering head-steam on the other side, the Vikings always found a rallying response to the Southridge answer with their depth on the bench being pushed to compete and take action.
“It just goes back to the willingness of these players to understand that we do have a talented team, it’s putting it together and being patient,” Maciel said. “Second half we showed more composure, we showed more trust in each other and we were able to develop one of our plays to capitalize on that.”
“We got so much depth; we’re not worried about scoring. We’re worried about finishing a game and that’s important. Moving forward, learning from this. We got to finish and finish the game strong.”
All of their hard work getting back into the game, getting into contention to win it, was faced with heartbreak with nine seconds remaining in the game. A counterattack resulted in Owen Garvey connecting on the go-ahead goal.
After the game, though the sting of defeat was evident, they’re already pointing towards how they can improve. Pointing out towards little things that went wrong as they now prepare for South Salem.
“The biggest thing is these kids are positive and we can work with them,” Maciel said. “It just goes back to practicing and showing up. It goes back to the fundamentals with these guys, it goes back to the basics and what we do and why we do it is important for these kids.”
They’ll have eight days-off until they travel to South Salem on September 7. Time is slated for a 7pm start.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald